For the first time since the launch in 1985, the much-loved IKEA meatball faces serious competition. The new plant ball is made with pea protein, oats, potatoes, apples and onion, but has the look, taste and juicy bite of a meatball. And not only that; the climate footprint is a mere 4% of its meaty counterpart.
When product developer Sabrina Anania-Stepanian first got the assignment, the mission was straight forward – and mega challenging. She was to develop the icon product of the future: a plant-based ball that tastes and feels like a meatball. The first prototype needed to be ready in just six months.
Sustainability was also a reason to create new options. “With the veggie ball we wanted to offer something as appreciated as the classic meatball, but plant-based and with less environmental impact,” explains David. Next came the salmon and cod ball. It contains pieces of salmon that are too small to be used as whole fillets. “And since it’s very tasty meat, we thought, why not make delicious fish balls of it instead?” says David.
The newest edition to the family is the plant ball. It’s made with pea protein, potatoes, apple, oats, and onion, but has the great taste and juicy bite of a meatball – making it perfect for everyone who wants to cut down on meat without losing out on the experience. With a climate footprint that is just 4% of the meatball’s, the plant ball has the power to make a difference. “A lot has happened since 1985. Now, there are edible IKEA icons for more of the many people. No matter if you’re flexitarian, vegan, meat lover, have dietary needs, or cultural preferences.”
Sabrina and her team threw themselves into an intense exploration phase, visiting suppliers across the world. “The first step was to look into alternative protein sources. We quickly decided that we didn’t want to go for soy since there are environmental downsides to the cultivation. Eventually, we decided on pea protein.”
There’s a science to extracting protein from vegetables. So, Sabrina and her co-workers finished their research and partnered up with experts in the field. Next came the more hands-on development. “We first looked at getting the texture just right, then at achieving the right taste. We had several development sessions and tastings before we were happy”, says Sabrina.
It’s fair to say that the plant ball is about old meeting new; traditional Scandinavian raw ingredients like potatoes, onion, apple and oats meet modern protein extraction methods. With a climate footprint that’s just 4% of the meatball’s, the plant ball is a great alternative for everyone who wants to cut down on meat without losing out on the experience. “I hope everyone will love it, even the sceptics, simply because it’s so delicious."